Author Topic: Take the Long Way Home - Australia  (Read 1212 times)

Offline shauly

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Take the Long Way Home - Australia
« on: June 07, 2018, 01:36:38 PM »
So I'm currently two trip reports behind, but I've been making progress on those and I figure if I don't start this one I'll for sure never finish it.

The idea for this trip started on a whim, as do most of the best trips. My good friend @shmueli2007 was in Vietnam, but had to make it back to Israel for his brothers wedding in the beginning of June. He needs to then go back to New York shortly after. I also have to go back to New York at the same time, so I said let's go somewhere on the way. I have a wife and two kids, so it was quite a job to get permission to go. In the end, I booked her friend a round trip ticket from New York to Israel, then I booked her sister a one way ticket from New York to Israel at the end of the summer, and booked my wife and daughters round trip tickets matching up with the other two flights so she wouldn't be flying alone in either direction.

With that taken care of, I now had permission to go wherever I wanted. The only issue left was fitting a trip into such a short slot. Shmuel can't leave until Sheva Brachos were over for his brother on Sunday, and we both have a wedding the next Thursday in New York. So with only 11 days, we decided the only logical place to go was Australia. Luckily we found Etihad Apartment space available down to Sydney, and we matched up some flights through Jordan and then a connection into Melbourne, and booked it all with 100k AA + $80. We took a bit longer layover in Jordan so that we could get the Etihad 787 to Abu Dhabi, and likewise in Sydney so that we could get the A330 into Melbourne with flat beds. The flight from Amman arrives at night and the flight to Sydney departs in the morning, so we booked a room in brand new Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi for around $150. We should have just enough time to see the Sheik Zayed Mosque that night.

After a lot of advice from many people here on DDF, we decided to start off with the Great Ocean Road outside of Melbourne, as well as a visit to the Grampians. We rented an SUV for three days for what I consider to be a very reasonable $97. We arrive in Melbourne on Tuesday morning, and need to return the car on Friday. We haven't finalized our exact route yet, or where we will be staying, but hopefully that will come soon. Friday we have free to explore Melbourne, and shabbos will be spent there as well.

Sunday morning we fly to Cairns with a stop in Sydney. There were no direct flights available, so we booked MEL-SYD-CNS on Qantas Business (on the A330 again for MEL-SYD) for 29k BA + $30 each. A 2 day car rental was $50, and we booked two nights in the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort Port Douglas for $342. Monday morning we have a private dive scheduled with Blue Dive in Port Douglas for a pricey $375 each. We can't fly out for 18-24 hours, so we will explore the area on Tuesday as we wait for our flight to Sydney that evening.

That's everything we have planned for now. We both transferred 160k SPG to JAL, in the hopes of being able to book Emirates First back to New York, and then add another Emirates trip on in a few months, but we may have to book something else if that doesn't end up opening.

I look forward to posting more when it happens! Hope some of you found it interesting or useful.

Offline shauly

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Re: Take the Long Way Home - Australia
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2018, 10:21:55 AM »
With just three days left until I leave, I finally finalized the rest of our itinerary.

The only things that I didn't cover in the last post was my itinerary for the Great Ocean Road and the Grampians, as well as my trip to New York. We arrive in Melbourne Tuesday mid-morning, and the plan is to grab some lunch and some food for the road, and head out. There aren't really any fancy hotel options, so we booked the Comfort Inn The International in Apollo Bay for the first night. It's about 2.5 hours from Melbourne, so that should give us plenty of time to see the sights on the way. It was $122 for a twin room. For Wednesday night, I booked The Grampians Motel and The Views Bar & Restaurant for $92 for a twin room. We will return to Melbourne Thursday night where we found a family to stay by until Sunday morning, when we leave for Cairns.

Now, for the way to New York. As I mentioned before, we both had to be back in NY by Thursday night for a wedding, so I was getting a bit anxious to get something booked. On Saturday night I got an ExpertFlyer alert that DXB-JFK had opened up in F late Wednesday night, but I had only transferred my first SPG batch to JAL on Wednesday so nothing had posted yet. That flight was gone by Sunday morning. I then set alerts for EK F flights from every city in Australia, as well as a handful of South East Asian countries that I thought I could make it to in time. That's when I noticed there was plenty of space out of HKG, another market where JAL doesn't charge crazy YQ. On Monday night, I got a notification that the DXB-JFK flight had opened again, but I only had 75k miles at that point. I figured it would be Wednesday by the time it all posted, but thankfully the other 125k posted Tuesday afternoon. In case it helps anyone, it seems like SPG-JAL posts at around 4pm Israel time. I quickly called JAL, and sat on hold for an hour, after which they only managed to hold my flights as they couldn't calculate the taxes. @shmueli2007 was also on hold, but by the time he got through they told him they can't book Emirates by phone as he can do it on the website. No amount of arguing worked. Sure enough, in the time between the end of my call and when he got through, they had added the functionality. His flights were booked in minutes while I waited for a call back that never came. After a few hours, I called back, waited an hour, and finally got my flight ticketed.

Now, we just had to get from Sydney to Hong Kong to catch the flight.. I waitlisted for several Cathay flights, but they were mostly full so I didn't have high hopes. The VA flight from Melbourne would have been amazing, and it seems to open up pretty consistently last minute, but it wouldn't get us to HKG in time. I finally found some space from Brisbane to Singapore on SQ J on the A350, with a connection to Hong Kong on the A380. It's going to be sad to be on SQ's A380 and not in a suite, but it's still a very decent option. I quickly called SQ to hold it, and transferred 53k UR (I had 5k already). I then canceled our QF CNS-SYD flight through BA, and rebooked us to Brisbane. I'm sad that we won't really have a chance to see Sydney, but we didn't have enough time to do it right anyway. I'll just need to go back! We have a 6 hour connection in Hong Kong, which should be perfect to grab some food and wander the city a bit before heading back.

Now that everything is settled, here is the breakdown of all the flights, hotels, and car rental costs:

Flights



TLV-AMM-AUH-SYD-MEL - RJ J, EY J, EY F, QF J - 100k AA (-10k rebate) + $79.91 USD
MEL-SYD-CNS - QF J - 29k BA + $30.71 USD
CNS-BNE - QF J - 15k BA + $20.65 USD
BNE-SIN-HKG - SQ J - 58k SQ + $99.30 SGD
HKG-DXB-JFK-DXB-BKK - EK F - 200k JAL (160k SPG) + $89.54 USD + $20 phone fee
I booked the return JFK-DXB for a year out and will use that leg for my next trip

Hotels
Abu Dhabi - Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Residences Emirates Pearl - 427.50 AED
Apollo Bay - Comfort Inn The International - $122 USD
The Grampians - The Grampians Motel and The Views Bar & Restaurant - $92 USD
Port Douglas - Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort, Port Douglas $341.98 USD for 2 nights

Cars
Melbourne - 3 days - Nissan X-Trail or similar - $97.04 USD
Cairns - 2 days - $49.47 USD - Hyundai I20 4 door or similar

I want to give a major thanks to everyone who helped me plan it, especially @MEIR613 who put up with hundreds of texts at every stage.

I think that's pretty much it! I hope these two segments are helpful to anyone planning a trip, and I can't wait to post the actual report.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2018, 11:17:06 AM by shauly »

Online davidrotts63

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Re: Take the Long Way Home - Australia
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2018, 02:14:35 PM »
Wow. Very informative.
Can't wait for the TR as well!
And we'll credit you for now being able to book JAL online
(Quit) pulling out the flowers, and watering the weeds. -Peter Lynch

Offline yhaller14

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Re: Take the Long Way Home - Australia
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2018, 02:45:48 AM »
Wow!!! Sounds incredible!  Can't wait to read  the actual TR......

"In the end we only regret the chances we didn't take"

Offline shauly

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Re: Take the Long Way Home - Australia
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2018, 04:18:03 AM »
Thanks guys! In the lounge in Jordan now, waiting for the flight to Abu Dhabi.

Offline Aron27

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Re: Take the Long Way Home - Australia
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2018, 05:10:20 PM »
Thanks guys! In the lounge in Jordan now, waiting for the flight to Abu Dhabi.
Hope u enjoy!! So jealous.. I'm so mad I wasn't able to join..

Offline shauly

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Re: Take the Long Way Home - Australia
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2018, 03:02:12 AM »
Taking off now on the A380 to Sydney. The Etihad ground experience can't compare to QR, but wow, the plane is amazing.

Offline shauly

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Re: Take the Long Way Home - Australia
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2018, 04:52:15 AM »
Just arrived in the Grampians. The Great Ocean Road was incredible, I got what I hope are some good pictures and a few drone videos. I definitely recommend it. There's kangaroos hopping all over here in the Grampians. So far Australia has been amazing! Looking forward to heading to the warmer north on Sunday.

Offline myi

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Re: Take the Long Way Home - Australia
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2018, 08:22:56 AM »
Wow , you've been flying most of the time it's seems,  any time to enjoy yourself? ;)
  Will be waiting for the detailed TR.

 
Don't try to be someone else , be who you are because everyone else is taken.

Offline shauly

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Re: Take the Long Way Home - Australia
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2018, 03:32:28 AM »
Wow , you've been flying most of the time it's seems,  any time to enjoy yourself? ;)
  Will be waiting for the detailed TR.

We've been enjoying non stop. The Great Ocean Road was amazing. We did one and a half days, I would recommend at least two full if not three. We spent today in the Grampians. I feel like some people could do two days but I was happy with one. On the way to Melbourne now. I have some meetings tomorrow but on Sunday we go up north to the warm weather!

This country is so breathtakingly beautiful. I've seen such a tiny piece of it and already it's one of my favorite places I've been.

Offline shauly

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Re: Take the Long Way Home - Australia
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2018, 06:25:49 AM »
Just arrived in Port Douglas! So far every single aspect of the trip has exceeded my expectations. Tomorrow we dive and Tuesday night we head back to NY.

I have a ton of pictures posted in my Instagram, @Shauly414.